Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Retro Review: RASHOMON (1950)

Welcome to another installment of RETRO REVIEW where we take a trip back in time to look at films made before the year 2000.  Today we review the 1950 Akira Kurasawa film, RASHOMON.  Enjoy!

This past weekend I was invited, with my fiancĂ©e, over to a professor’s house to join him and his wife for a movie viewing. Like any good professor, they made us watch something a little more intellectually engaging: Akira Kurosawa’s Rashomon. So I decided to write a review. Here’s my thoughts:

First, story-telling. This film is famed for story that it weaves—it now even has a film term named after it: The Rashomon Effect. Essentially, this means that different characters are giving contradictory accounts of the same event. Kurosawa’s film has influenced film for years to come. Some notable uses of this effect are Gone Girl and many sit-coms such as How I Met Your Mother. Rashomon does this through the four different characters telling the story of a gruesome murder and possible rape or adultery. Kurosawa abandons fancy work in the name of telling a beautiful story, and he succeeds. Through telling the four different accounts of what happened between the Woman, her Husband, and the Bandit in the woods, there are many possible interpretations of what Rashomon means and is communicating. Here's another writer's take on why it's important (

One of the major debates that the film raises is female sexuality and rape culture. Two travelers—the Woman and her Husband—encounter a bandit on their travels who tricks them. Once he has the husband bound by rope, he pounces on her. From my vantage point, and from the story that I believed, it seemed that she had been raped by the Bandit. I believed this to be the true account because I am fast to believe anyone that accuses someone of assaulting them. The other three accounts, however, seemed to suggest that she committed adultery and consented to sex with the Bandit. The commentary provided by those men also shamed the Woman for the predicament that she was in, even suggesting murdering her for being unfaithful or for not marrying the Bandit with whom she had just had sex. Obviously it was set in a time when women were viewed as possessions and objects, but DAMN that was hard to see. 

Rashomon also included another story in the form of three men talking at a gate. They discuss the case that occurred but also speak on faith in humanity and the depravity of human-kind. The film ends with one man telling another that all of humanity was evil and selfish, only for that man to take in a baby that has been abandoned and treat it as his own child. This side story gave a great backdrop to the story as it reminds us that some people lie and cheat, but that others are good, honest, and virtuous. Taking in the baby allowed us to have faith, just as the Priest at the gate says that his faith in humanity is restored.

Kurosawa’s use of the camera also enhanced the story telling. The lighting was natural, soft as times but glaring at others and it put the viewer in the scene. The frame ratio was pretty different than what we are used to today, as it was very narrow. I enjoyed the narrow frame as it gave focus to what was happening on the screen and made for interesting cuts.

Ultimately, Rashomon is a must watch for any self-proclaimed film lover. It is a master class in story-telling and the use of the camera and lighting to enhance the aforementioned story. Kurosawa’s film continues to impact nearly 70 years after it was created.

Wesley's Score: 8.5/10

Make sure to check us out and like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter and Instagram for all of our reviews, news, trailers, and much, much more!!!

No comments:

Post a Comment